France / 1972 / French & Arabic

Directed by René Vautier

With Alexandre Arcady, Philippe Léotard, Hamid Djellouli

Aures5A hard-nosed lieutenant named Perrin, between stints in Indochina and Chad (he seems to be following France’s colonial disasters as they topple) has found himself, unfortunately, in Algeria. Perhaps his superiors hate him, because he has been inexplicably put in charge of a company of scraggly young men from Brittany who were sent off to be rifle fodder as punishment for having protested the war. They stand in front of him after three months stuck on a remote desert base, having seen no action. Miserable and no doubt smelly, they look restless and not at all happy to see him. He is greeted with a volley of derisive jokes and is serenaded with a raucous drinking song, but he is ready for it. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Camera

04/23/2018

India / 2010 / English & Hindi

Directed by Ranjan Palit

Still From 'In Camera'While there’s a lot of inward-looking self-examination from actors and directors about the meaning and implications of cinema, we don’t often hear from the cinematographers. But particularly in documentary, the one holding the camera makes a lot of the choices that have an effect on the real people whose images they capture, and those choices shape how the audience views the subject matter. In this look back through a 25-year career, cinematographer Ranjan Palit wonders if he didn’t do enough analysis of himself and his motives, enough projection of what he and his camera would mean to the stories he documented. Looking back through films that he variously directed and shot, fiction and nonfiction, he tries to trace the impact, both returning to the memories and also retracing them against the present day, to compare image and reality. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fall

04/16/2018

Switzerland / 1972 / Swiss German

Directed by Kurt Früh

With Walo Lüönd, Katrin Buschor, Annemarie Düringer

Still From 'The Fall'On a train rushing through countryside and suburban sprawl, a drab private detective named Grendelmann sits in his seat alone. He is returning home after visiting his ailing father in the hospital. Every now and then he casts a glance at the stylish young woman in the adjacent seat, but it’s unclear if he’s taken with her or marveling at the resemblance she bears to the back picture of the fashion magazine that she’s reading. The title sequence of dialect director Kurt Früh’s final film is as visually-inventive as can be done in a commuter train carriage, the two characters rippled in the window’s doubling reflections, with the camera’s vantage pulsing across the seat cushions. When they arrive at the last station he briefly follows the woman loses track of her. So he goes about his job, tailing a different woman home from work.

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South Korea / 1990 / Korean

Directed by Jang Dong-hong, Jang Yun-hyeon, Lee Eun, Lee Jae-gyu

With Kang Neung-won, Ko Dong-yeob, Kim Dong-beom

Still From 'The Night Before the Strike'Iron workers line up in the company cafeteria to receive their trays of gloomy food, which, like their jumpsuits, appears prison-issued. And, like prisoners, their lives are bound to a system of cyclical repetition, with not much potential for variation or movement; they wake up, work a numbingly long day, clock out at the end to go get drunk together, and enjoy a cigarette or two. One of the workers, Kim Jeong-min, seemingly sparked by a momentary impulse,  throws down his tray and jumps up onto a table. He exhorts his fellow workers to refuse low wages and mistreatment. No sooner is he able to fire off a few words than he is dragged away by company thugs. A manager in a leather coat advises the men to forget what they’ve just seen, to just enjoy their lunch break. And that’s the end of that. For the moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Poland / 1961 / Polish & German

Directed by Kazimierz Kutz

With Jerzy Block, Janina Traczykówna, Andrzej May

Still From 'People From the Train'It’s an ordinary day at Koriany railway station. There’s not much to be said for the station – rarely is it even a stop for trains, surrounded by trees, in the middle of a quiet nowhere. But the correspondingly small and unassuming stationmaster, Kaliński, does his job with gravitas, saluting each passing train, throwing the correct switches in his office, and phoning the next station to confirm the schedule. His suit is perfectly ironed. It is in the Fall of 1943, and one train arrives stuffed full of people. The crew inform Kaliński that the last two cars have malfunctioned and must be left behind. He translates the message for the German Bahnschutz (railway guard) on board, who makes everyone in those two cars alight. Then begins a huge surge of humanity toward the already-full cars ahead. As shouting people shove and grapple their way on, either pushed or pulled by those aboard, the train abruptly begins moving again. And so those who didn’t make it on trickle, along with their ragged belongings, into the station. Read the rest of this entry »